Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some What ifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old What-if song:
What if I'm dumb in school?
What if they've closed the swimming pool?
What if I get beat up?
What if there's poison in my cup?
What if I start to cry?
What if I get sick and die?
What if I flunk that test?
What if green hair grows on my chest?
What if nobody likes me?
What if a bolt of lightning strikes me?
What if I don't grow talle?
What if my head starts getting smaller?
What if the fish won't bite?
What if the wind tears up my kite?
What if they start a war?
What if my parents get divorced?
What if the bus is late?
What if my teeth don't grow in straight?
What if I tear my pants?
What if I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then the nighttime What-ifs strike again!
~ Shel Silverstein in A Light in the Attic, page 90
Every once in a while I wake up from a deep sleep, and like Silverstein's poem, the What-ifs are there and want to play! Maybe you are like me, and the What-ifs like to visit you as well? It is no surprise these are rooted in fear - some that could perhaps be legitimate and others that just seem so irrational. Regardless the What-ifs love to whisper in your ear about a situation that has little basis in fact and quite honestly little we can do about it - especially at 3 am.
I find that the often I get caught on a treadmill where I anticipate every horrible thing that could happen in a situation and rehearse my reaction and strategy to deal with each one. Oh, how the What-ifs delight in this game! Kidding aside, this can be really tough to get through and make for a lousy nights sleep.
Here are a few things that I find help:
1) I like to pray. This is a deliberate shift from looking inward to looking upward. This change in perspective can be powerful! I ask the Father for a deep sense of the peace that passes understanding found in Him.
2) I invite God into my worry and ask for eyes to see the issue the way He does, for the light of truth to dispel the shadows of lies and ask for protection, guidance, and wisdom.
3) I also like to turn the game around on the What-ifs. Instead of following them down into the syphon of despair, my response to what-ifs is looking for positive outcomes. Instead of imagining the worst, turn it on it's head with hope!
4) Pick a verse or two of scripture about the steadfastness of God and reflect on them. How faithful, good and loving the Father truly is! Nothing can separate us from the love of God, Jesus, His disciple in a boat in a storm, Consider the lilies as a couple of examples.
Remember God is for you! He is for you because He loves you and regardless of whatever storms you may walk through, He is faithful and true to be with you through it. Ask for the grace to experience His loving presence in the midst of the carrying-ons of the What-ifs.